I hope to travel to New Zealand for fewer than six months. Will my criminal record be a problem?

If you are a UK citizen and intending to travel to New Zealand for fewer than six months, you can apply for a Visa Waiver. You can’t apply for a Visa Waiver prior to travelling. You will complete an arrival card on board your flight or ship.

You will need to apply for a character waiver before you will be eligible to travel under the Visa Waiver if -you:

  • Have criminal convictions for immigration, citizenship or passport offences
  • Have been imprisoned for a criminal offence
  • Provide false or misleading information when applying for your visa
  • Are wanted for questioning, under investigation for, charged with or convicted of a criminal offence which, if you are convicted, has a term of imprisonment of 12 months or longer

Character waiver applications are considered on a case-by-case basis. If you meet any of the above criteria, you should provide a full explanation as to the circumstances and offer supporting evidence as to how those circumstances have changed.

I am applying for a temporary entry/residence visa to New Zealand. Will my criminal record be a problem?

If you are aged 17 or over and intend to stay in New Zealand for 24 months or longer, you will need to apply for a temporary entry visa. Everyone entering New Zealand must be of ‘good character’ and not pose a potential security risk. This is primarily assessed through the good character requirements for entry to the country, which are the same whether you are applying for temporary entry or residence. As part of your application, you will need to provide a Police Certificate.

Under New Zealand immigration legislation, you cannot be granted a visa if you:

  • Have ever been convicted of an offence for which you were sentenced to a term of imprisonment of five years or more
  • Have been convicted in the last 10 years of an offence for which you were sentenced to a term of imprisonment of 12 months or longer
  • Are prohibited from entering New Zealand
  • Have ever been removed, excluded or deported from any country

You will also not be granted a visa if immigration officials have reason to believe you are likely to:

  • Commit an offence in New Zealand that is punishable by imprisonment
  • Be a risk to security
  • Be a threat to public order
  • Be a risk to the public interest

If any of the above points apply to you, you will not be granted a visa unless you are granted a special direction. A special direction is granted by the Minister of Immigration in exceptional circumstances.